MBA student Erica Rochana smiles looking at her foster dog Chester, outside in a field.

Erica Rochana (MBA ’21) and her foster dog, Chester

“The phrase ‘Spartans Will’ is so apparent right now. How will we persevere what we’re going through?” Erica Rochana, a first-year student in the Broad College Full-Time MBA program, is one of nearly 50,000 Spartans persevering through this unprecedented time.

Due to precautionary changes made to prevent the spread of coronavirus and a transition to online instruction, MSU students have had to promptly navigate a 100% virtual learning space while facing the anxieties and stresses that accompany this time of uncertainty.

Rochana has taken a unique and heartfelt approach to weathering the storm: fostering a four-legged friend.

“I am a social extrovert, and the idea of social distancing gave me anxiety,” she said. “I moved here from California last semester to start the MBA program. So, when we heard the news and moved into this social distancing state, I was at the crossroads of going back home or sticking it out here in Michigan, where I live alone.”

Rochana decided to stay. Then she began thinking of ways to volunteer to ease her mind and help others going through the same hardship.

“Although I was feeling extremely anxious, I realized that I was still pretty fortunate,” she said. “I thought about how others are suffering much worse than myself — not just people, animals too. It all started with me wanting to give back in some way.”

She knew her commitment as a full-time student would not be a good fit for having a pet. Instead, she embraced the idea of fostering one.

“I was thinking about animals looking for their forever homes and how people don’t know what all they’ve been through,” Rochana said. “The idea of fostering and helping another soul really spoke to me.”

So, she reached out to New Hope Pet Rescue, a volunteer-run rescue based in Laingsburg, Michigan, offering foster lengths ranging from two weeks to 12 weeks. Rochana was able to bring home Chester, a young pit bull mix in good health, just days later.

“It’s self-healing for Chester and it’s self-healing for me as we go through this together,” she said. “Normally, in times of negative mental states, you’d go work out or do social things, and right now these things are completely blockaded because of what’s going on…. It’s a tough time for everyone. If you can help someone — [whether] it be human or not — especially during this time, why not do it?”

Rochana said she and Chester are providing relief for each other, and she encourages others to consider fostering if they can. Ultimately, she hopes that people are finding productive ways to cope with what we are all facing.

And she shared a special message for the MSU community:

“As a Spartan, know that you’re an example to this community, whether it be East Lansing or all universities across the United States. We are Spartans. Spartans will be strong. Spartans will persevere.”

For more information about fostering an animal from New Hope Pet Rescue, visit the rescue’s website or Facebook page